Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Wells Fargo

(As an ongoing rant about my despised {former} banking relationship...)

Sorry to keep on about this issue with Wells Fargo, but it seems that significant credit reduction is quite pervasive with this bank from the many people I spoke to - both bankers and business colleagues. On the bright side, this is quite the boon for the smaller local banks, like WECU (where I transferred my account to today), and other small businesses that seem to be flocking in droves. It brought me peace today to sever my ties with Wells Fargo and have the manager cut up my debit and credit cards in front of me and dispose of them.

On a similar note, it is unfortunate that over the years the SBA funds dried up to become virtually nil, other banking business lines of credit have dried up entirely, and banks have basically forced the small business owner to rely extensively upon (highly profitable) credit cards for their working capital needs. Fortunately, this doesn't impact me, but I do feel sorry for the millions of small businesses trying to make ends meet, and I've worked with many relying upon credit cards to fund expenses during tough times. Again, I think the situation is going to get far, far worse before it get better.

But at least the large banks (like Wells Fargo) get to shore up their balance sheets at the expense of taxpayers. A rough calculation is $125 per taxpayer for Wells Fargo alone for this round ($3,500 per taxpayer for all these large banks looking for handouts from the government). But at least I did write to both Senators today (to be followed up with phone calls), and I bitched all day to anyone that would listen/ So although my battle is not over on my crusade against WF, I hope to at least bury it on this web log.

Sorry, no pictures tonight. It's closing in n New Years (it already is on the East Coast) and I need to get rolling.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wells Fargo

(as a follow up to yesterday's quasi-rant...)

Okay so I didn't get singled out by Wells Fargo because of my crummy 740 credit score. A business owner friend of mine was also downsized on his WF credit card. I wouldn't be surprised if they systematically reviewed all accounts in a defensive move in these turbulent times to reduce their credit exposure across the board.

And in actuality, I really don't care that my credit card's limit was reduced by 74% even though I haven't been late on any payment in the last decade - not even an electric bill. Come to think of it, I don't even use this card. It's in the drawer somewhere with the activation sticker still on it. But I will gain much satisfaction in telling the banker at Wells Fargo to go f*ck themselves when I break the card up in little pieces in front of them (the last time I did that was at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh in 1992 - oh , what a good feeling that was), and then close my business checking account and go over to open an account WECU. And to contact Senator Murray or Cantwell to bitch to them how effectively Wells Fargo is easing their credit standards. God, I hate banks.

And what further pisses me off, is the fact that my tax dollars went to subsidize banks like Wells Fargo (specifically to the tune of $25 billion for this bank alone, maybe more for the highest bank bailout per share of assets) in order to keep the economy afloat by keeping credit flowing to small businesses (such as myself). Or so we were told. What a bunch of dumb asses Americans are to by into this. More corporate welfare that will never make it to Main Street, but instead line the pockets of banking executives. The banking system has failed the consumer, although I did read how the profits of the five largest banks over the past three years are equal to the loan write offs they anticipate taking this year. It is so nice to privatize reward and nationalize risk. I wonder what they call this type of economics? Neoliberalism-cum-socialism? Looks more like crony capitalism to me.

Enough ranting. Oh, and I think the picture was taken a few weeks ago in the really cold weather. That's about the only time it's not cloudy here in the winter. The clouds keep a lid on the warmer air.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Banks

It's good to be back in Bellingham amidst the clouds, cold and drizzle. One thing I found quite odd about Arcata was the lack of people doing things outside. There were virtually no cyclists (or kayakers, hikers, surfers, etc.) even though they have a great cycling infrastructure, and the ocean and mountains are right there. But there are always an overabundance of people out and about here in Bellingham - whether on foot or on bike - and I am always glad to return to my single-speed bike and bing out in the weather. Cycling does wonders for both my body and soul.

I did enjoy the warm weather in Humboldt County and it's always to good to get out of town for a few days, especially having temporarily severed my ties to all things technological, although I do return to town realizing there is much work to be done for the next few months in my work life.

And I am glad to see our government is helping out so effectively with their solution to the credit crisis. Whatever they are doing seems to be working wonders, as my Wells Fargo business card was recently reduced from a credit line of $13,000 down to $3,500. Fortunately, this was the final straw in closing this account and my business checking account with Wells Fargo. I never carried a balance on that account anyway. I could only imagine if I did not have excellent credit. Yeah, I thikn the small businessman is screwed. I've said it many times before, but we haven't seen the worst of the credit crisis. At lest the banking industry will continue to profit handsomely from our taxpayer subsidization of it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Arcata

video
This was in an interesting vehicle to pass on the Interstate while leaving the snow last Sunday somewhere in the middle of Oregon. It’s got a goat in the back of an old Chevy Luv pickup. I hope we didn’t offend the occupant of the truck. I saw the goat and pulled over only to let it pass and get another picture of it. Today is the last full day in Arcata and tomorrow we begin the trip north again.

Being without Inter net is not all bad, as it allowed me to relax quite a bit, and realize that the world can get by without my incessant e-mails. So far (and for some odd feeling) Arcata reminds me sort of like Bar Harbor, Maine and also like Oxford, Mississippi.

I’ve gotta run right now, as I am getting a ride from the coffee shop at one p.m. and we are going own to the beach in the light drizzle of this neat little town.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Redwods

A two-day blitz through the Redwoods from Arcata down to San Francisco (and Oakland) for business and pleasure. (Since I had a rental car I was able to explore the city much more than normal, although I am not big big fan of big city driving anymore.)

Seven hours down and less than five back over the course of thirty six hours was a bit much, but still exhilerating. The Redwoods Highway is beautiful and mysterious, but unfortunately I was not able to stop as much as I'd like. And the rain added to the aura of the ride home. I felt like Bigfoot could step out of the massive trees touching the narrow highway. But the rental car was surprisingly agile - a sporty Chevy Cobalt with Pirelli P6's - and that made the drive a bit more enjoyable, although I am not, by any means, an aggressive or fast driver in these days.

But back in Arcata for a few days and looking forward to doing nothing. The rain in California far warmer than that of Bellingham, although the temperatures and winds (currently) are far more mild. It feels like Bellingham in May.

A cacophony of thoughts in my head, but they are difficult to transform to words in this enchanted part of the country. The picture, by the way, was taken from the Google Images.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Humboldt

Here is a picture showing how harrowingly cold it can get when the wind whips down from the Fraser Valley.

So the trip from Bellingham entailed three hundred miles of treacherous icy roads. No ice storm is complete without an SUV on its roof or a jackknifed tractor trailer, so these two events seemed to end this lengthy ordeal.

But in Salem, Oregon, the roads abruptly cleared and the rest of the trip to Arcata was quite pleasant. Leaving the interstate after hours and hours, and on to the Redwood Highway – US 199 – that merged on the coast with US101, from Crescent City down into Arcata. I look forward to traveling this during the day. I traveled this route once before in 2006, and considering that was with my ex-wife, it’s always nice to replace memories associated with lost love with fresher ones.

But Arcata is a bastion of liberalism that is tucked away into the sleepy northern California Coast. Of course, there is the enclave of retirees that move in. From what I understand, Arcata, is not too much different than Bellingham, where people move from somewhere sunny and warm and decide after three years or so that they just can’t get used to the chilly damp weather. At least the winds were a bit warmer coming off the ocean.

But this morning I am in partly cloudy San Francisco answering e-mails near the panhandle off Haight Street. I thought that I would drive down from Arcata for some meetings since it’s only a few hours away. Upon returning to Humboldt County, I hope to relax for a few days and do nothing. From what I’ve seen, it has the same vibe as Bellingham.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

South

The cold weather brings out all types in Bellingham. This picture was taken from The Herald.

Not much to say. A day getting ready to drive south with another nasty storm system passing through. We hope to leave town around 3a.m. and hopefully be in rain by the time it really gets nasty. But there will be snow in Seattle, ice in Portland, and rain south into coastal California. And right now, it's twenty-five degrees warmer there. Time to sleep for awhile.

I do not know when I will write next.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mt. Something

Here's a picture that a friend took last week or maybe two weeks ago. He's not sure if it was Mount Baker or not, so he called it Mount Something. Many people are heading up to the mountain to ride and ski, and the conditions seem quite nice. Someday I will make it there, as I skied quite a bit in Lake Tahoe (about thirty times each season) but became spoiled by living less than five minutes from the Stagecoach Lift versus having to drive over an hour.

Last night I did something I hadn't done in decades, and that was buying some albums to play on my turntable that I hadn't used since I acquired this stereo (which includes a seventies vintage Yamaha turntable) a year ago. So I bought some old Jackson Browne LPs, as I 've never listened to him in depth although I've always respected him as a musician. One was Late for the Sky; the other The Pretender. Oh, and I also bought Ace, by Bob Weir. All for $10.30 - my Christmas present to myself.

Off to California early tomorrow morning, so I don't know whe I will write next. Many of my dayligt hours will be spent driving south on I-5.

"Going where the climate suits my clothes..."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dark


I sit here typing at the Public Market and look up to see a sky turned black versus the grey that I saw seemingly moments ago.

Another day, and more corporate welfare. I would bet the farm that the concept of an 'orderly' bankruptcy (of the US automakers) would be to shed their pension plans and health care benefits for current and ex-employees. Great, let the taxpayers subsidize these corporations by passing these pensions off to the already overburdened PBGC. )I wonder why there hasn't been much talk about this federal agency recently? They should go broke right around the time Medicare does.)

Basically when a corporation goes bankrupt and reorganizes, things like pensions just disappear off the balance sheets and get absorbed by the government. They continue to produce crappy cars that no on ewnats to buy, and die a slow death. At least management will continue their posh existence for a few more years and will have time cash out their options.

I read where GM has something like $9,000 in HR costs built into each new Volt it projects selling. Some can blame the unions. Some can blame exorbitant health care costs. But it's a fact in today's economy that we can expect less and less from our employers in terms of any security or ongoing commitment. Good or bad, it's a fact of life. We are on our own. I guess that's progress.

My idyllic (albeit somewhat tainted) worldview envisions a world where open source car could each be modified to meet individual tastes and function. Maybe in a capitalist country, but not in the US where taxpayers keep the ailing dinosaurs on life support versus investing in cutting edge (and high growth) emerging technologies in transportation. I can personally tell you that there is no money out there for start-ups. Too bad we weren't a rusting, old, tired company looking for a handout.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow

3"-6" of snow cripples Bellingham. Most of the time it melts quickly, but some times it lingers for days and days and with a coating of ice underneath can make things a bit precarious. But without the gripping wind from the northeast, it was actually a pleasant day. Tomorrow I will try to get some fresh pictures.

And another perfect day for my Bean boots in the snow walking one of the greenway trails along Whatcom Creek as the clouds broke for a decent sunset on a walk to the post office. Then to the food bank to volunteer for a few hours. But I do not understand why more people wear these shoes out here, as they are perfect. Maybe because they're sort of dorky looking, come to think of it. Oh well. In the rain, these and cycling rain pants are a perfect combination.

Growing up in Norhteastern Pennsylvania, these were common. A family down the street where I grew up had eight kids and I remember seeing eight pairs of Bean boots under their Christmas Tree. I do not do a big Christmas celebration too much anymore, so recollecting these thoughts of childhood purity send feelings of warmth through my body and soul.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mouse

This morning I had a gorilla loose in my house. It was coming from the back laundry room and sound like it was about to break out of its cage. But upon closer inspection, I realized that it was only a little field mouse. It was scratching frantically at the cupboard where we store Magilla's food. I don't blame him (or her) for moving inside for the winter. And besides, there's room for all of us. She seems to share Magilla's tastes for dog treats.

I still don't understand why one furry animal is domesticated and cuddly and we let sleep in our beds, while others are considered vermin and eradicated at every opportunity. I guess if dogs were left to run wild then they too would be potentially carrying diseases.

Last year I had a mouse living with me that I called Sherman. This one definitely had different habits and I would say that he is a she, since she appears to be trying to build a nest under my motorbike helmet in the back cupboard. I think, once again, that I may need to set some ground rules. Here is last year's post on Sherman.

Looks like next week might have in store for it a driving trip down to Northern California. Christmas among the Redwoods might be nice.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nor'easter

When the wind blows from the northeast, chances are it is a frigid Canadian blast that hits Bellingham for a few days and makes you realize the next six months of forty degree drizzle are not so bad. I don’t ski anymore, so snow is not really my bag. And with the ice on the street, it’s not too conducive to biking. But other than the chance of the pipes freezing under the house in the crawl space, I can handle the cold. And for the pipes, I have plug-in heat tape on them, and periodically run the cold water during the night when I get up. Sort of like being on anchor watch on a sailboat.

Thankfully the weather is quite freaky and dramatic up here, otherwise I would probably never have a whole lot to write about. The flag on the picture above usually indicates a pretty cold day is ahead when you can see it blowing stiffly coming from the Fraser Valley. In the background is Mt. Baker. And although the temperature is not too cold, the wind is frigid and relentless.

Utility bills be damned, I'm turning the heat up. Last year's high electric and gas bills were around $110 and $60, respectively. This year will probably be a bit more, although they're nowhere near as high as the bills were back east.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wow

I do not know what evoked that outburst on yesterday's rant, but when I write I am caught in the moment. I could edit the post but I will leave it as is.

The party last night turned quite interested as many of the attendees were snowed in and many stayed, while many took cabs home and left their cars. For a piddly 3-4" snowstorm, the roads were icy and treacherous. This same scenario seems to happen every winter: Snow over icy roads that lasts from a few hours to a few days. The snow and ice from this storm will probably last through possibly mid-week, as the high temps will hover below freezing for a few days. But the party was a blast and I was glad to meet a wonderful group of people and today paid for it through my lack of sleep.

And one of the benefits of the storm was finding a bus route that was direct to a place I usually bike to in Happy Valley. I prefer biking there but will be taking the great bus service while the roads remain crummy (Bellingham has no snow removal equipment). And talk about punctuality: Today the outbound left exactly on time, while the returning bus was only two minutes late.
Oh, and the picture is from yesterday's Jingle Bell Run through downtown.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hedge

The glorious wheels of capitalism keep turning as the neoliberal economists tout how perfect the work would be in a regulatory anarchy where the "invisible hand" (probably the most misused phrase in history - some say Adam Smith possibly meant this to be taken tongue-in-cheek relative to the rest of his rigid text, although this phrase is widely quoted) once again is left to control the markets of free will. Things work smothly in a perfect work, but unfortunately there are such factors as greed, deceit, corruptness and all the other evil things that money seems to nurture in many people.

I speak of Bernie Madoff, a filthy businessman that basically screwed over everyone and anyone that ever entrusted their investments with the hedge fund he managed. And not just capitalists; many of the people were invested in his hedge fund were foundations or non-profits in search of above-market returns but willing to forego basically any accountability requirements or regulatory oversights. The free market once again stumbles.

Furthermore, it is so sad that sad that people such as Madoff will only go to medium security prison for less than twenty years when they've destroyed the lives of thousands. I guess white-collar crime does pay. I've never been that satisfied by material things enough to perform such heinous acts as those of Bernie Madoff. When layers of regulation are added to our already overwhelming overburdened regulatory system, we will have people like him to thank.

Sorry about the rant, it's just that scum like him make me sick. Time to get ready to go to a party tonight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Life

Life is precious. Today a colleague of mine was injured rather severely in an incident down in Seattle of which I've been able to garner few details. More although information trickle in here and there. It is so shocking and I hope my friend fares well and today my thoughts of him are never very far off.

Oddly enough it was twenty years ago that I'd spent two months in the hospital due to a car accident that should have killed me (see pic). It is unfortunate that it takes situations like this make me realize how fragile life is and that every day is a gift.

On my to the cafe to work today, the snow has reached the low mountains around Bellingham, probably 2,000 feet or so. This weekend is where the cold weather blows in from the Fraser Valley and the wind dips into the teens. This is the time of year when you don your complete thermal underwear (tops and bottoms) for days until the spell breaks. Although the highs in the twenties and lows in the teens doesn't really seem cold, the moisture seems to chill you to the bone. And the weather here is always something to be talked about.

Well it's 3:20 and daylight is fading, so I should get home. I forgot how early it gets dark and I left my cycle light at home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pass

The most exciting thing I did today was put about a hundred asset tags on everything my company owns. But at least I was able to drive through Alger Pass (some call it a pass) through the ethereal mountains disappearing into the low clouds. Actually I was the passenger (in an old 240D running biodiesel) which is even better.

Interstate Five runs through this cut in the hills. This road, SR9 and SR11 are the only three that attach Whatcom County to the rest of the United States. All that lie to the north are open fields. And Canada.

Not much more to say. other than this picture is of the Taylor Street Dock last summer. Time to fall asleep watching a movie, something I have not done in a long time.

Night

Sometimes when I ride. I think of things I want to write once I get in front of my computer. Tonight was one such night that I really thought of nothing except how wonderful the fine drizzle felt on my face.

I was coming home from my moonlighting gig at eleven realizing how much tremendous fun I have selling tobacco, alcohol and processed food to college kids while listening to loud classic jazz. This week the students are in the midst of finals at Western. The running joke is that you need a graduate degree to work at our convenience store, as I have my MBA and my colleague has a Masters in German Literature. But jobs (even menial ones such as convenience store clerks) are quite hard to come by in Bellingham.

Ans oddly enough, earlier in the day I met with a woman that I am handing off other clients of mine as I am fully concentrating my energy on the biodiesel company. But being a clerk is quite the escape, although someday my day job will become all engrossing and the evenings of living amoung the hipsters will be a fond memory. But I am glad that I realize in the moment what fun I'm having (some of the highs in my life) versus having to look back upon them at some point in the future and say "geeze, 2008 was a pretty fun year." There are many rough patches, but generally the road is good.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Housing

Here is a picture of more soulless condo boxes sure to cash in on this wonderful housing market in Bellngham. Problem is, the market is flooded with condominiums, so these will most likely be rental units. And this generic crap will be so much nicer to look at versus the views of Bellingham Bay that used to be.

If the realtor that shows these places is smart, they'll make sure one of the frequent freight or passenger trains isn't signaling at the crossing immediately below. Their horrns wake me up on occassion at the F Street and Roeder, and that's almost a mile away. The nightly train whistle of the 3am northbound should be pleasant.

And I heard the rental market is still pricey here, as the lending is tight (depending on who you ask), and people are still asking way too much for houses. People don't understand that if a house is not selling at market, it's because it's not at market, it's above market. In a very simplistic sense, if if was priced at market, it would have a buyer and be sold within a reasonable time, not ten-to-twenty months out as the local inventory versus sales indicates.

But I was looking on zillow (for what that web site is worth) and saw that my house has appreciated roughly 3% since I bought it. Not bad in this otherwise dismal market. And if my payment trend continues, I'll have it paid off in ten years. Frugality pays. And what they call a starter home is what I hope to be carried out of at room temperature in roughly forty years.

And then in ten years I'll hopefully use it to generate some rental income and take a few years off to travel. I think I will have earned it by then. If I still have my mind, that is: the stress of working with emerging companies can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But I love it. I don't know why. Strange.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holly

This picture is of the notorious intersection of Holly and Railroad, where all the hoodlums allegedly hang out. Having been in some rather bad parts of large cities in my life, I sort of chuckle when I hear this assertion. I've fet more threatened walking down Main Street USA in Disney World than I've felt here, but I was a bit younger when I was at Disney World. (I hope I don't jinx myself with that last statement and get rolled some night riding home down Railroad.) But Bellingham is a pretty small town, and considering I grew up in city of comparable size, there is virtually no crime here.

The biggest thing that I got accomplished today was putting little wooden covers on the vents on the tiny crawlspace under my eighty-year old house for the onslaught a cold front or two. I was told these cedar-sided homes were originally built for coalminers or lumbermen. And I, with a graduate degree, living in this house that a family with nary a secondary- or high-school education inhabited brand new, wonder how far have we progressed?

Sail

Here is a picture stolen from the city web site. I guess I should give it credit here.

Tonight I visited some friends that lived aboard their sailboat for a few years in the Sea of Cortez and then in the South Pacific. At least this evening's conversation buoyed my hopes of one of my life dreams to sail the Pacific for a year or two as crew on a sailboat and hop from island to island, with one boat or many. I understand many baby boomers are setting sail as they near retirement after being cooped up in corporate offices for much of their useful years and have limited sailing knowledge other than coastal or lake sailing. (Not that lake sailing is anything trivial. I sailed Lake Erie for years and it was some of the worst weather I ever experienced. Although St. Vincent was pretty bad too.) But there appears to be a need for able bodied crew with sailing background, so this is within reach. I understand yachts leave Bellingham with regularity for the South Pacific. Or if not down the road at the Squalicum Marina, then I certainly could gain passage from Seattle or Vancouver.

But back to reality, today was basically a work day (I thought is was Friday a few times) and I may have a few days in sequence to sleep in. I may try to not schedule anything too early until Wednesday, I hope.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Prorogue

My housemate acquired a free bike today, which will require minimal repairs to make it a daily rider. I will be glad to have a backup, as I rely upon my bike to get me all over town, and to be without one would be very limiting. I've been pretty much riding it every day for the last two-plus years, and amazingly all I needed to do was repack the rear hubs and keep it cleaned (and a few spokes and many tube patches), so sooner or later it may be out of service. So far, I have been amazed at how reliably that it has performed.

And some interesting news going on in Canada regarding Harper and his request to prorogue Parliament until late January:
"When Ms. Jean returned, there was more discussion, and then she granted the Prime Minister's request to prorogue, or suspend, Parliament, thus allowing him to escape Monday's scheduled vote of no-confidence that almost certainly would have torpedoed his minority Conservative government."

I am sometimes amazed at my ignorance of our northern neighbors, although I listen to the CBC for most of my news, so I probably know more about Canada than many of my countrymen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Polaroid

Oddly enough. the staple of nineteen seventies picnics and holidays and little league baseball games is becoming a thing of the past: The Polaroid Instant Camera. The film is no longer being produced, so all those Polaroid cameras will become relix (relixes?) of a bygone generation or two. I have a friend in NYC that took a Polaroid of everyone that ever came into his East Village apartment. I am somewhere in his pile of thick prints framed by thick white borders.

But my housemate shot some 20"x24" Polaroid film as a project in art school and displayed them at this exhibit opening tonight on Western's campus. So her friend shows up with another couple and he lives four houses away from me. Small town. Art openings are fun and she does really neat work, and tomorrow is the Gallery Walk in Bellingham. This is always a fun time, but I will unfortunately miss it.

It is cold here but not that cold. Yet. Funny thing last night listening to a radio station on the AM dial that was coming in pretty clear and they were talking of the Canadian temperatures coming in at -16*C and I was thinking "oh here comes one of those Alberta Clippers" where the temps dip into the teens and you freeze your butt off for a few days, but oddly enough it was a station coming in from the cold Calgary prairie and not the more temperate Vancouver or Victoria, the latter being south of Bellingham.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Farms

It is interesting in Bellingham how closely people are always grounded in their livelihoods. A wide (and very rich) belt of farmland is to the north and south of here, and tremendous emphasis is placed upon such things as good food, active living, etc. I am sure there are plenty of those too that go home every night to their snout houses and 46" flat screens, but I do not know too many of them. I am sure that they are plentiful though.

Maybe too I've become more closely enmeshed in the local agriculture (by working wiith biodiesel - my home page for both computers is the CBOT bean oil prices) for growing local oilseed crops. Or maybe that there is the fact that so close by are fabulously healthy eating places. Today I found the best salad in the world at the Public Market for less than six dollars (for the large) with the miso-tahini dressing and sprouts and sunflower seeds. The place is called Seven Loaves Pizzeria (link here, last feature) and I cannot wait to return. Oh, and it was organic and locally grown.

The picture above is the farmers market from a few months back. My housemate works here on the weekends. Speaking of whom, she is made some wonderful Indian food tonight with eggplant and rice and beans.

More Fog

And again tonight the fog just arrived. The night of biking home late with the mist on my brow after an invigorating ride, with the muffled moist air surrounding me. It was neat to see the tiny water droplets in my headlight. And fortunately my single speed cruiser is still working diligently after two-plus years of steady use with minimal maintenance and nothing wearing out (other than the chain and many inner tubes and patched).

Here is a picture taken where may of the delicacies are prepared in the house. The cupboards are c.1928 and some day the imitation-wood formica countertops will some day come back into style. (Just like my mid-eighties bright red ski pants I still own.) Besides, granite is passé and I wouldn't be surprised of the radon reports aren't unfounded anyway.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Awake

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Yesterday I may have had a spiritual awakening. I do not know specifically what triggered my altered world view towards two things. The first was the fact that I looked upon Magilla and for the first time realized that she was truly a beautiful dog. Maybe it was all the people making such a fuss over her at the dog park. Or maybe that she's one of the kindest dogs I've ever seen and she has the most distinct and defined markings. And I still felt that way about her this morning. Hmph.

The other change I experienced was the appreciation of being outside in the drizzle of winter and how connected the weather makes you to your surroundings - the ground and sky and evergreens and ferns and salty bay - and loving it. And not only is the rain refreshing, but it keeps everything clean and vibrant. I really look forward to the next bike ride in the rain. And it looks like I will carry my trusty rain gear with me for the next few months wherever I go. I hope I can retain this enthusiasm for those months.

The movie is taken last full riding up Chuckanut Drive (SR11) on my old BMW R60/6. Although you can't really see that well, to the left is the Puget Sound and 178 islands. The lower part is basically an untouched windy ribbon of road, although development (in the form of tacky big houses) creeps further and further down the highway. ("Call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye..."). This road passes through one of the few remaining undeveloped vestiges where the Cascades Mountains meet the Puget Sound, once spanning all the way to Portland. Unfortunately it will no longer be within ten years, as the bulldozers and logging trucks are moving in and the roads are already cut. So sad.